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Someone was asking about North Esrolia—Helerdon in particular—over in the JCCC group recently. I've been in the idea-generating stage writing up the city of Sylthi, and went off on a big rambly tangent. I realized that I'd appreciate feedback on what y'all over here think about my picture of Esrolian religion, and hope that it might be interesting, too. There's good odds I'll post more material as I work on it and it gets tidier, if people have continued interest.

As I said, my direct interest is a writeup of the small city of Sylthi. I'm not trying to produce a detailed, super-elaborate description of Esrolian religion, but describe broad characteristics and then focus on the specifics and details at the city level. The material here is also a rough draft, not a polished and refined product. It's how I'm currently thinking about the topic.

Sources: I haven't found many sources on North Esrolia/Sylthi in particular—or really on Esrolia in general—which is what attracted me to the region. The primary source is, of course, the Guide to Glorantha, and the Stafford Library's Esrolia: Land of 10,000 Goddesses is also important. In particular the chapter "What My Mother Told Me" is relevant. Much of the rest of the book I find interesting, but more thought-provoking than actually informative.

Throughout, I've tried to be reflective toward published canon, rather than treating it as sacred and unalterable.

OVERVIEW

Esrolian cults fall into three broad categories: Earth cults, Husband-Protector cults, and minor cults. Every local culture worships deities of the Earth, and every local culture worships one or more husband-protectors of Ernalda. The "minor" cults vary widely from city to city, and are difficult to generalize. This shall be demonstrated in the latter portion of this essay. Throughout, I shall use the minor Third Age city Sylthi as an example of how these generalized trends manifest in a particular culture.

It's important to remember that, while generalizations can be made about Esrolian religion, the region does not represent a homogenized culture; in modern terms, she is in no way a nation-state in the sense her Orlanthi cousins, the kingdoms of Sartar and Tarsh, are, at least to some degree. Despite persistent regional identity since the Dawn first as the Kingdom of Night through three hundred years as the Holy Country of Belintar, each of the former Sixths has maintained independent cultures, and their overlords have generally ruled with a hand favoring non-intervention. At the start of the Hero Wars period Queen Samastina is the Queen of Nochet, and consequently claims authority as High Queen of Esrolia. But not all cities recognize this authority, even if they send "tribute" downriver. Nochet bears cultural weight proportional to her population, but is not a centralized authority for the region. Each city-state is her own.

The nearest thing to a central authority lies at Ezel. Meaning "her home," this massive temple-city is the place most sacred to Ernalda in Glorantha, and consequently may well be the most sacred piece of geography upon the whole of the Lozenge. Her priestesses here bow to no one within the sacred temenos, and any entity which is not depicted in one of Ezel's thirteen great temples, or among the lesser shrines, is not considered deserving of worship. It should be noted, however, that new entities can be discovered shewn in this mytho-mystic place, as was demonstrated when Belintar led the priestesses to himself in an alcove previously unknown. Still, the authority of Ezel is connected to place, and does not spread through the region. Consequently each city's Earth temple echoes this and remains its own theocratic entity which interacts with, but is not generally submissive to, the cults of other cities.

The city-state is the basic political structure of Esrolia, built up of myriad houses and guilds. An Esrolian house is about parallel to an Orlanthi clan, in terms of size and function. The status of an Esrolian house varies more widely than a clan, with some noble houses dominating populations and resources which would be impossible for a single clan of Heortlings to achieve. They operate through an elaborate system of "client" houses, marriage alliances, and mercantile contracts. Status is broadly associated with antiquity. Politics and religion intertwine at the house stratum. Noble houses typically dominate priesthoods.

A given city has two important temples, the Earth Temple and the Temple of the Husband-Protectors. Any number of minor temples or shrines may exist, depending on the local culture. These additional deities are typically the locus of one or more guilds—houses organized around a single craft, rather than bloodline. About half the time, the city's temples are placed into a sacred precinct, a temenos, surrounded by a low wall. This wall clearly designates where magical activity begins and ends on festival days and Sacred Time, rather than letting the energies flow across the whole of the city. This is both a blessing and a curse for cities so-organized. These temples centralize religious, political, and economic activity. They are the city's beating heart.

These various temples determine who sits on the city council. This body is similar to the ring of an Orlanthi clan. Built of representatives from the different walks of Esrolian life, the council determines law, distributes resources, and overall creates a harmonious life for all Esrolians. (Note: this is intentionally over-stated, and utopian.)

EARTH CULTS

Like everywhere else, the worship of the Earth is the most important cult for human survival. Unlike everywhere else, in Esrolia it is also the most socially prestigious cult. Ernalda is the Queen of the Universe, and the bringer of all good things. Fertility and Harmony are greatly valued by all Esrolians—including males—and the Earth cults demonstrate this. The entity directly worshiped by the Earth cult is the local land goddess of the city, who is a daughter of Ernalda or Esrola. She is also the communal spirit, the wyter, of the city.

(In RQG game terms, this cult is identical to the Ernalda cult. At most, it may have a few spell changes, restrictions, or a localized subcult. A plethora of names could be used for different land goddesses of regions, cities, and even the farms of individual houses—but it can all be abstracted as the cult of Ernalda.)

Several other entities associated with the Earth are worshiped by the Esrolian religion. Countless, for it is indeed the land of 10,000 goddesses. They cannot all be addressed here, but the most important deserve mention.

Asrelia

Asrelia is the Grandmother, and most important of the Earth goddesses after Ernalda herself. She is the source of wealth. A house's Grandmother is typically an initiate of Asrelia, and it is through mimicking Asrelia's myths that the Grandmothers have established and maintained their authority. Despite the mother's position as queen (whether of a city or the Universe), the Wise Old One retains power and authority of her own. In some cities, the queen's Grandmother is the true ruler (even above the city council!).

Barntar

Barntar is a favored cult of Esrolian men, the son of Ernalda and Orlanth. He emphasizes Orlanth's aspect as God of Farmers, and allows the men of Esrolia to contribute to her Fertility in some small way. He has a shrine in most Earth Temples.

Babeester Gor

Most Earth Temples have a shrine to Babs as the avenger of the Earth, and her dedicated warriors are the royal bodyguard of the queen. Any person accompanied by them is explicitly on the queen's or the council's official business. Rune Lords remain rare, associated only with independent temples in the metropolises of Esrolia.

Esrola

Worship of Esrola is generally subsumed into the Ernalda-worship of the local land goddess.

Imarja

I have no idea how I'm going to approach Imarja in my Esrolia. The swan-goddess of femininity is fascinating, but seems to need an unusual, more mystic approach than other deities. Perhaps she's the source of a feminine Illumination, in addition to the Lunar Way, Nysalorean Illumination, and Draconic Illumination?

Ty Kora Tek

Ty Kora Tek is not generally worshiped in the Earth Temple of a city, but she is one of the city's important deities. At the very least, the priestesses maintain a shrine to her nearby, in the local necropolis. This is typically outside the city wall. It's common for even a small city to maintain a temple to the Goddess of the Dead, and a single priestess to maintain the necropolis and sing prayers to the dead.

The Earth Temple

The Earth Temple of a city is the institution with the most influence on who is the city's queen, for the city queen is also the High Priestess of the temple. Depending on the city's size, there may also be a second priestess, or even a Chief Priestess who oversees other priestesses. In general, the queen has authority over the Earth Temple, embodies the local Earth Goddess during festivals, and directs how to spread Ernalda's blessings, but the Chief Priestess oversees the temple's day-to-day affairs. She typically does not come from the same house as the city queen, save in cities where a single house has obtained a complete monopoly on political and magical power. Often, she comes from a client house, or from a rival house with which the city queen made alliance to secure the queenship.

The Earth Temple is the center of a large network of political, magical, and economic activity. Much of a city's manufacture is directed toward it, and then distributed ritually through the social framework of houses, client houses, and guilds during festivals. The temple is an administrative center. In some small cities, it is a manufactory in its own right, particularly when a city has few guilds focused on a given craft. At the level of a town, the Earth Temple is the center of all crafted goods, the place where all crafters do weaving, pottery, and redsmithing in community.

Example — Temple of Ernalda Sylthela

Sylthi worships the goddess Syltha, who is the land goddess of the immediate region. They define Sylthela as anywhere within a day's ride from Sylthi, although this obviously varies depending on the nature of the horse, and if anyone stops the rider while they're performing the ritual to define the city-state's boundaries. While the historical House Syltha went extinct during the Adjustment Wars, House Netha refounded the city through a pact with Syltha during the period between the Dragonkill and Belintar's arrival in Kethaela.

As the city queen, Queen Yarlina of House Netha is the High Priestess of the temple. Her cousin Hazulelda is also a priestess, and runs the temple's day-to-day activity. This is primarily administrative, acquiring grain brought in to the Earth Market, ensuring the granary remains filled and maintained, and distributing it to the citizens. She is technically a Chief Priestess, but has only one priestess directly beneath her, from House Pareninna, a position given as token appeasement. House Netha has a firm grip on Sylthi.

The temple's primary shrines are to Asrelia and Babeester Gor. A small fire burns at the entry, which serves as a shrine to Mahome, but few people worship at it, preferring instead to enter the temple proper. The temple priestesses are also responsible for maintaining the necropolis, and their aunt Yarmanda is a God-Talker of Ty Kora Tek.

Unusually, Queen Yarlina's great-aunt Grandmother Hazulda is a full Rune Priestess here of Asrelia, rather than a God-Talker, due to the lack of a temple.

HUSBAND-PROTECTOR CULTS

The husband-protectors of Ernalda are a multitude, of which traditionally Orlanth is most eminent. In practice, the husband-protector a city's religion focuses upon depends on its history, its current politics, and its magical needs. A city which historically struggles with drought and a dearth of rain will often focus its resources in worship of Heler, rather than Orlanth, while one near the Shadow Plateau may have a tradition that every third city king must be a worshiper of Argan Argar. The Esrolian attitude toward gods is opportunistic. Ernalda takes on whichever husband can provide what she needs in the moment, and her worshipers do likewise.

Orlanth

Orlanth is most often worshiped in the subcult of Orlanth Thunderous. Due to the death of King Broyan, and the historic fear of a Vingkotling heir by the Esrolian Grandmothers, Orlanth's more warlike and pro-active aspects—namely, Orlanth Adventurous—have been discouraged. Nonetheless no one denies that, when he's present, Ernalda favored him as lover, father, and husband. Even if he is a bit of a deadbeat murder-hobo.

Argan Argar

Worship of the God of Surface Darkness has lain fallow for a long time, since Belintar slew the Only Old One. It remains minimal in 1625, but is starting to see local resurgences. He is most valued in cities near the Shadow Plateau, where the ability to interact safe-ish-ly with the Uz is of use, or in places in extreme fear of outside harm and willing to make pacts with ancient, inhuman powers. Argan Argar is in particular worshiped as the husband of Esrola, not Ernalda.

Heler

One of the thanes of Orlanth, Heler is often seen as a fitting substitute by economically-minded Grandmothers, for he brings rain and good things. I don't have a strong personal conception of Heler, so his role in the Esrolian religion isn't well fleshed-out for me, either. In particular, I'm not sure how to handle his genderfluidity, but I think it opens up the opportunity for some really interesting stories in matriarchal Esrolia.

Flamal

Another god described as a husband-protector, and another one I don't have strong feelings toward

Elmal

Again, still formulating my thoughts here. I'm not sure the "steady thane" story works well, considering the historical Darkness focus in the land. I can see him being important in North Esrolia and the Longsi Land, near the Old Forest, due to his relationship with High King Elf. I do like calling him Elmal here better than Yelmalio; I think that culture clash is interesting, and provides an opportunity to roleplay the Sun Dome versus the Loyal Thane.

The Temple of the Husband-Protectors

In conjunction with a city's Earth Temple, the Temple of the Husband-Protectors provides the basic forms of magic and belief for Esrolian culture to thrive. A parallel can be drawn here between the generalized "Lightbringers Temple" found among some Orlanthi; this is typically a minor or major temple which serves as a holy place for Ernalda's husband-protectors as a collective entity. One husband-protector is supreme at any given time. His priest is considered the City King. A city's wealth can be roughly measured in how many husband-protector cults it supports. While performance of many religious festivals and feasts, and the support of priests, God-Talkers, and initiates can be cumbersome for a city's economy, doing so elevates the city's Earth Temple's status in the eyes of its neighbors. To provide such great bounty to those who can offer little in return is an act of great Fertility.

Ultimately, despite the vainglorious title the City King has little real authority. Only in occasions of strife do the husband-protectors have power and use in the city. Otherwise, he provides a tiebreaker vote on the city council and joins the queen when she holds court, but does not rule.

Example — Sylthi's Temple of the Husband-Protectors

In Sylthi, the Temple is adjacent to the Earth Temple. It has a large courtyard, and traditionally focuses on Orlanth Thunderous as the primary husband of Ernalda. However, his statue is now absent from the courtyard, instead placed in one of the eaves, and the yard left bare. The city king presently is the adventurer-cum-merchant King Dur-Gaddi Leadfoot, an uzko and Rune Priest of Argan Argar. He was declared king, to many's surprise, not long after King Broyan was slain by Kitori. Queen Hazulda was behind his ascension, and has made pacts with his family back in the Shadow Plateau in an effort to re-establish bonds with the Uz who ruled Kethaela peacefully for so long. Orlanth Thunderous is still worshiped, alongside Heler. Heler rarely has the kingship, and so his is one of the few priesthoods in the city which is occasionally filled by those not of a noble house. The city's Grandmothers and council rarely choose a Helering as king because their temple's Heler priest owes loyalty to the High Priest in Helerdon, per ancient agreement they upheld when House Netha re-founded the city.

The husband-protectors have few official duties beyond the actions of religion. Consequently, they are seen as layabouts by the overworked priestesses and initiates of the Earth Temple. Naturally, one couldn't possibly entrust them with further duties, being so slaggardly.

"MINOR" CULTS

While called minor, there's often nothing trivial about other cults of Esrolian religion. They are minor when considered within the context of a whole city's culture, but can, and often do, wield significant political and magical power.

Family Cults

The most frequent additional cult are family cults. These cults are organized around the worship of a house's founder. The house Grandmother is the priestess, and can speak with the founder or other ancestors to ask advice, tell them how the family's doing, and even lean on them for magical support. Often, this is only the case with noble houses. A guild also often worships its founder, but rather as their wyter and in association with the guild's god.

(In game terms, this is a cult of Daka Fal, probably without shamans. If there are shamans, I definitely want them to not be the "ooh look, I run around naked! I have weird taboos!" form of shamans we see in other materials, because of the prestige involved.)

River Cults

Many of Esrolia's largest cities sit on a river, which provides transport of goods, and food for the locals' living. Rivers used mostly for food have little prestige, but the economic impact of heavily-trafficked rivers raises their status extensively. Typically, a city on a river has a minor temple to the river-god, and one city along its length has a major temple, which the other river priests owe loyalty to the High Priest. This worship is often in conjunction with worship of Diros, the boat god, or Vogarth Big Man.

Merchant Cults

Two main merchant cults are common in Esrolia: Argan Argar, and Issaries. Issaries is generally favored, but Argan Argar has a significant historical foothold in the region due to the Only Old One's influence. These cults are worshiped by a guild, and sometimes shared between multiple.

In Sylthi, both cults exist mutually, although they don't share the same marketplace. One guild, the Fat Women, worships Issaries at the guildmaster's shop, and Argan Argar worship is centralized in the Temple of the Husband-Protectors. With Dur-Gaddi's ascension, uzko merchants worshiping Argan Argar have begun visiting the city more often.

Other Guilds

Many other gods are worshiped in this same manner, with the worship centralized by one or more guilds. The major example of this is Gustbran, the Redsmith's god. Nearly every city has a small guild dedicated to him, lest the city be reliant upon another for their metalwork. Noble houses will occasionally command people assist the local Redsmith's Guild in order to be sure they have access to their magic.

Lightbringer's Cults

The Lightbringers are honored, but not focused upon as a pantheon in the sense they are among Heortlings. A given city may have a minor temple to one of the Lightbringers, and Chalana Arroy often has a shrine in the Earth Temple. In Sylthi, the only Lightbringer worshiped as part of the city religion is Lhankor Mhy, at the Hevduran Dege Library (which, curiously enough, is actually older than the refounding of Sylthi—it wasn't destroyed in the Adjustment Wars, and remains an extant relic of God Time architecture).

Small Cults

Many small, localized cults exist throughout Esrolia, such as hero cults and spirit cults. I don't want to go into depth here, because 1) I don't know a lot about them yet, and 2) they're often weird and iconoclastic. One example of this is the cult of Vogarth Big Man, a hero worshiped as psychopomp in Sylthi, because he guided the dead back to the Necropolis in the Silver Age. (I don't know a lot about Vogarth, but came across that story, and I enjoy that extrapolation, and the idea of the spirits of the dead traveling downriver with the psychopomp.)

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54 minutes ago, Crel said:

Despite the mother's position as queen (whether of a city or the Universe), the Wise Old One retains power and authority of her own.

One reason why the cult of Asrelia is so powerful is that they control the city granaries and are the "treasurers" for the Earth temples and the houses.  Even if they delegate the day-to-day rituals of collecting to other Ernalda priestesses, they will be the ones who know how much there is, where it is, and likely whether it should be disbursed for further use.

57 minutes ago, Crel said:

Worship of Esrola is generally subsumed into the Ernalda-worship of the local land goddess.

Those dedicated to Esrola will be specifically responsible for bringing surplus seed out to the farms around and blessing the fields/crops.

59 minutes ago, Crel said:

Imarja

I have no idea how I'm going to approach Imarja in my Esrolia. The swan-goddess of femininity is fascinating, but seems to need an unusual, more mystic approach than other deities. Perhaps she's the source of a feminine Illumination, in addition to the Lunar Way, Nysalorean Illumination, and Draconic Illumination?

You might simply treat her as the figure invoked to help restore peace, to "bind" things together, etc. More the collective spirit that keeps Esrolia together rather than disintegrating into fragmentary and squabbling city-states.  Put statues of her everywhere, have everyone acknowledge her presence and blessing, but otherwise she does not offer any specific benefit.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

The Earth Temple is the center of a large network of political, magical, and economic activity.

An important aspect is that the Earth Temples control the distribution and use of much of the land.  The land "is" the Earth, therefore it is the Earth Temple's to determine who has the rights and obligations for it.  And as head of the Earth Temple, the City Queen speaks for the goddess in this regard.

This is also why certain Enfranchised Houses dominate the temple, as it reinforces their control of city and land around.  They determine that your house (i.e. clan) is to farm the fields around White Rock.  Your house gains the benefit of their blessings including fine seeds.  In return, you owe X amount of grain as tribute to the temple, and likely some labor to do X work and maintain/train some militia that may be called upon for defense.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

As the city queen, Queen Yarlina of House Netha is the High Priestess of the temple. Her cousin Hazulelda is also a priestess, and runs the temple's day-to-day activity.

And Queen Yarlina's great-aunt Hazulda (the Grandmother of the house) is her right-hand advisor and controls the House's finances, the city treasury and granary, and ensures that tribute is properly collected and obligations met (of course delegating many of these to other family daughters or cousins).

1 hour ago, Crel said:

Queen Yarlina's great-aunt Grandmother Hazulda is a full Rune Priestess here of Asrelia, rather than a God-Talker, due to the lack of a temple

As part of the Earth Temple complex, worship of Asrelia is not confined to a small set of elderly folk - Asrelia gets full benefit of the size of the temple and will have priestesses accordingly.  The Grandmothers of the leading houses will hold those positions.  Others who have retired will just be initiates of Asrelia.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

Worship of the God of Surface Darkness has lain fallow for a long time, since Belintar slew the Only Old One. It remains minimal in 1625, but is starting to see local resurgences.

Belintar didn't necessarily suppress the cult of Argan Argar, he just took command over (and tribute and magical energy from) the Shadow Plateau and the cult with the defeat of the OOO.  He used the Kitori periodically to help enforce control over Volsaxiland.  And generally he would encourage trade there through Argan Argar.

Whether there is much interaction in Sylthi may be another question, but there may at least be periodic troll trade caravans arriving at the city market.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

Another god described as a husband-protector, and another one I don't have strong feelings toward

God of Seeds!  Helps make the crops grow.  Anywhere you have agriculture, Flamal will be an important husband-protector.  He'll be part of the planting and harvesting festivals.  Also an important part of any interactions with the elves.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

His priest is considered the City King.

Rather than "King", you might term him "Warlord".  It avoids the connotations of kingly equality with the queen, and covers one of his most important functions, protecting the city.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

The husband-protectors have few official duties beyond the actions of religion.

They are (or should be) the city militia (not that it serves as any sort of "police" - which is really non-existent - the Houses enforce local discipline within and amongst each other), particularly as gate guards and wall watch.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

Two main merchant cults are common in Esrolia: Argan Argar, and Issaries.

The market is extremely important in any Esrolian city.  Quite likely that the House Grandmother will be married to the High Priest of Issaries.  Since men typically marry into the woman's house in Esrolia, good Issaries merchants are among those sought after and help cement relationships between the Houses.  (Like Sartarite clans, the Houses will marry from other Houses as it helps achieve balance.  Enfranchised Houses will prefer to marry from other Enfranchised Houses, and may look to those from other cities to help secure favorable trade relationships with those.)

1 hour ago, Crel said:

In Sylthi, the only Lightbringer worshiped as part of the city religion is Lhankor Mhy, at the Hevduran Dege Library

This should be a very important part of city life.  It's where houses/clans from across North Esrolia send promising youths to learn the scribal arts and potentially become scribes/sages.  Remember all that grain and tribute which has to be counted and recorded?  Remember all the marriage arrangements, and tribute arrangements, and trade deals?  Someone has to record those!  All Houses need and want scribes.  All guilds need and want scribes.  And whoever controls the LM temple ensures the price to train a young scribe/sage is paid - more wealth to the city.

I'm also sure that the LM temple here is important in relations with the elves of the Old Woods.  And possibly their records must be consulted to see how to encourage Argan Argar trade without offending the elves.

Also the LM temple needs parchment or paper - sheep for the first, some sort of pulp for the latter.  The first is likely most common in Sylthi.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

One example of this is the cult of Vogarth Big Man, a hero worshiped as psychopomp in Sylthi, because he guided the dead back to the Necropolis in the Silver Age. (I don't know a lot about Vogarth, but came across that story, and I enjoy that extrapolation, and the idea of the spirits of the dead traveling downriver with the psychopomp.)

Vogarth is also the Strong Man.  So, your city laborers will worship him to make their tasks easier.  (And there's always building going on in these cities - particularly repairs after all of Greymane's raids)

1 hour ago, Crel said:

A given city has two important temples, the Earth Temple and the Temple of the Husband-Protectors.

Three, you need to include the Market.  A city without a good market is not a city.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

The primary source is, of course, the Guide to Glorantha, and the Stafford Library's Esrolia: Land of 10,000 Goddesses is also important. In particular the chapter "What My Mother Told Me" is relevant.

Don't forget the short chapter in RQG.  It notes the recent "resurrection" of Tenrala, downriver from Sylthi and across the river from Brol (sort of a new Nochet "colony" planted to help stabilize North Esrolia).

It also notes that Queen Samastina of Nochet is considered to also be the "ruler" of North Esrolia (which includes Sylthi).  Whether or not Sylthi was part of the Old Earth Alliance or not is another question, but the city will definitely have some tribute obligations to Nochet and its Queen.  However, it's also on the Malthin River which means many of its good are likely shipped downriver to Mylagos (a traditionally Red Earth city) and then to Rhigos (where the Demivierge rules).  And it's not far from Kosh and Longsi Land where other independent queens rule.

Looks like a great start to defining a typical Esrolian city!  

 

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Looks like a great start to defining a typical Esrolian city!  

Thank you! I really appreciate your comments and time. I will note that, as I re-read over my notes, I feel like I forgot an important aspect: beliefs. Not just the roles of the different cults in Esrolian society, but what their followers believe the world is, believe about right and wrong. I suspect that will be a way to help differentiate some of the cults in my mind, especially things like the husband-protector cults.

3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

One reason why the cult of Asrelia is so powerful is that they control the city granaries and are the "treasurers" for the Earth temples and the houses.  Even if they delegate the day-to-day rituals of collecting to other Ernalda priestesses, they will be the ones who know how much there is, where it is, and likely whether it should be disbursed for further use.

...

As part of the Earth Temple complex, worship of Asrelia is not confined to a small set of elderly folk - Asrelia gets full benefit of the size of the temple and will have priestesses accordingly.  The Grandmothers of the leading houses will hold those positions.  Others who have retired will just be initiates of Asrelia.

How many total priests/priestesses would you expect in a city, as a portion of the population? Part of my thought processes re:Sylthi in particular have been minimizing the number of Rune Masters, but I haven't done more in-depth work on population and economy modeling yet. That's a great point on Asrelia's role with the granary. Perhaps some shenanigans with which house the citizenry go to for their grain, a sort of silent voicing of their support... Big fan of ambient conflict as a source of adventure.

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

They are (or should be) the city militia (not that it serves as any sort of "police" - which is really non-existent - the Houses enforce local discipline within and amongst each other), particularly as gate guards and wall watch.

That makes sense. I see a majority of males being involved with the heavy labor portions of living, with warfare-like roles of less value. I believe there's notes in 10K on the frequency of mercenaries in Esrolia. But, there's definitely initiates of the husband-protectors too, and the individual priesthoods are probably traditionally associated with particular houses, or client houses of one of the nobles.

In my city, I'm focusing on three noble houses: Netha and Pareninna, and then the "new" house, Lorel (defined as new since it settled into the city after Belintar, but it's been there over 200 years now). A significant number of the members of all three live outside the city proper, but I haven't finished my gazetteer of Sylthela yet figuring out the dynamics. The city itself has 3,000 people, according to the Guide, so probably no single house has all of its members in the city, and maybe not all of the guilds, too.

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Three, you need to include the Market.  A city without a good market is not a city.

Is a marketplace automatically a temple? Coming from RQG, I'd define a market as any space within a Create Market spell, but wouldn't say that automatically designates the place a temple. I know there's at least an Issaries shrine, a shop which fronts to the Foreigner's Market.

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

This should be a very important part of city life.  It's where houses/clans from across North Esrolia send promising youths to learn the scribal arts and potentially become scribes/sages.  Remember all that grain and tribute which has to be counted and recorded?  Remember all the marriage arrangements, and tribute arrangements, and trade deals?  Someone has to record those!  All Houses need and want scribes.  All guilds need and want scribes.  And whoever controls the LM temple ensures the price to train a young scribe/sage is paid - more wealth to the city.

Indeed! While the Hevduran Dege Library is infamous for its itinerant masters, the Sword Sages of Lhankor Mhy, more practically it is the training center for much of the communities along the Whitefall river in need of scribes. On holy days the various noble houses send persons (in effect couriers, but persons of status, not laborers) to get required records distributed, written, and stored in the archive. The HDL maintains some measure of independence from the three houses due to its antiquity and unique traditions, but the houses naturally are always trying to get someone into the position of Chief Sage, for that vote on the council. It's one of the major political factions, albeit one which is broadly neutral to internal affairs.

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Vogarth is also the Strong Man.  So, your city laborers will worship him to make their tasks easier.  (And there's always building going on in these cities - particularly repairs after all of Greymane's raids)

Is there somewhere to find out more info on Vogarth, by any chance? When I was doing research I had very little success.

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Rather than "King", you might term him "Warlord".  It avoids the connotations of kingly equality with the queen, and covers one of his most important functions, protecting the city.

I'll keep it in mind, though I prefer "King" aesthetically. Maybe something like "Husband-King" or "Lord Husband"...

4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

You might simply treat her as the figure invoked to help restore peace, to "bind" things together, etc. More the collective spirit that keeps Esrolia together rather than disintegrating into fragmentary and squabbling city-states.  Put statues of her everywhere, have everyone acknowledge her presence and blessing, but otherwise she does not offer any specific benefit.

Interesting, sort of the wyter of Esrolia. In 1625, I find myself quite attracted to the notion of squabble, despite all the Grandmothers Council attempts. I recollect that Samastina claims High Queenship of Esrolia, but I'm not convinced that's terribly rock-solid. Sort of a, "you send grain to Nochet along with pretty words, and I won't make more substantial claims." Of course, she'll eventually want to consolidate power.

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33 minutes ago, Crel said:

I'll keep it in mind, though I prefer "King" aesthetically. Maybe something like "Husband-King" or "Lord Husband"...

Maybe something like "King-Consort?" Keep the title, but make it clear that their "kingship" stems from their marriage and nothing else. Though personally I'm of the opinion that the Esrolians would do their level best to keep any of their men from ever being called a "king" of any stripe.

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38 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Maybe something like "King-Consort?" Keep the title, but make it clear that their "kingship" stems from their marriage and nothing else. Though personally I'm of the opinion that the Esrolians would do their level best to keep any of their men from ever being called a "king" of any stripe.

Why not go all Elizabethan and call him the Prince-Consort? Prince is an accepted term for warlord.

"King" and "Queen" come in all levels in Orlanthi culture, from the leader of 2000 for some Alone tribes to the ruler of Tarsh with a population of more than a third of a million, or King Congern of Jonatela ruling over well over a million people.

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33 minutes ago, Joerg said:

the ruler of Tarsh

This is why I don't mind "king" in theory for the queen's primary husband-protector. In this part of the world "king" is at best a few generations away from being synonymous with "sacrifice" and in the wreckage of the Winter several probably met the sharp end of a knife or axe as various queens got desperate for ways to get the seeds germinating. Some grandmothers undoubtedly argue for reinstating hard term limits now. We probably see this most clearly in areas where Flamal worship survives . . . probably not Crel's Sylthi but I bet as you move toward Belernos king longevity declines. 

Of course grandmothers facing Heortland are probably relatively skittish about any whiff of independent male authority (the Leingod model) so that's another great source of conflict. Around here "prince" might reflect alliance with Issaries for that matter. These might be matches for love or money but obscure cult dogma suggests that you'll want a husband-protector as well. (You can get around this by getting an AA sub license.)

Love the original post. Hot stuff!! I adore the Fat Women. Worship well and often, ladies!

EDIT every temple worth having is a market and vice versa

Edited by scott-martin
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10 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

This is why I don't mind "king" in theory for the queen's primary husband-protector. In this part of the world "king" is at best a few generations away from being synonymous with "sacrifice"

Let me earworm you: here's an ancient Esrolian song from the first days of human settlement in Dragon Pass.

Sacred King of Clearwine

I bet you're wonderin' how I knew
'Bout your plans to paint me blue
Like some other god you knew before
Between the two of us gods
You know I loved you more
It took me by surprise, I must say,
When I found out yesterday
Don't you know that:

I heard it on the grapevine
Not much longer will you be mine
Oh I’m Sacred King of Clearwine
And I'm just about to lose my life
Honey, honey yeah.


Chorus of Women:

Sacred King of Clearwine
Not much longer will you be mine 
Baby.

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7 hours ago, Crel said:

Is there somewhere to find out more info on Vogarth, by any chance? When I was doing research I had very little success.

The longest bit are in HW Storm Tribe and the Esrolia book.  Much of the first went over into Heortling Mythology:

Vogarth
Status: Hero
Date: Silver Age
Place: Kerofinela
Worshippers: People desiring strength
Cult: Independent
Vogarth was a hero of the Silver Age. He is known as the strongest and dumbest man in the world. He performed twelve great deeds of strength to prove himself worthy of becoming one of the Silver Kings, the Husband-Protectors of legendary Queen Merngala. He is famed for being hard working and honest, and even his lack of intelligence was a boon for this hero. 

Also in Heortling Mythology there is this bit from the story of Desaventus, another Silver Age hero:

Desaventus fell in love with Ondurisa, the daughter of Queen Imajarin of the Esrovuli. [probably a grand-daughter of Queen Merngala.] To woo Ondurisa, Desaventus befriended the Strong Man and defeated the fire-breathing Monros Boar that ravaged the fields of the Esrovuli. Desaventus lost that friendship when he stole Ondurisa from Nochet and married her.

The Esrolia book notes:

He did many great deeds. The Big Man was always ready to engage in challenges of strength. He threw the dragon ship up onto Shadow Plateau, and the trolls ate the Waertagi. Another time he challenged Jeri Babo, called the Immovable Person, and pushed him off his chosen place. A huge stone giant once came and threatened Ezkankekko, who called for Vogarth’s help. He came running and cracked that stone giant with his hammer, and saved the troll king. Another time he carried the wondrous Living Stone Tree from the Footprint to Queen Merngala's house. She took him as her husband-protector for a while, and he is the father of her triplets.

Some other bits are scattered about in the Guide and RQG including:

Kosh (large city): The huge limestone walls of this ancient city were built by Vogarth Big Man during his contests with the elves.

Donbry (small city): This city is famed as the home of Vogarth Big Man, a Hero much loved throughout Esrolia.

This is a short writeup drawn from various bits I put together as part of some Esrolian/Nochet content:

Vogarth the Strong Man – demigod of strength

Vogarth, also called the Big Man, was the strongest man in the world. He was a huge, strong, and kind man, noted as much for his dull mind as his great strength. He wandered throughout Kethaela and did a great many deeds. He destroyed beasts, raised landmarks, and confused foreign kings with his honesty. He even served as the husband-protector of Great Queen Merngala for a while, and was the father of her triplets. Vogarth is always depicted as a huge man with immense muscles. He is either unarmed or carrying a laborer’s hammer.

And I don't think there is much more, but I think you can take the following:

  • He's much like Hercules or Thor - strong, honest, and did many deeds - he's the Everyman of Esrolia
  • Even if "outwitted", he probably succeeds none-the-less in the stories
  • Every Esrolian city is going to have a Vogarth story (or several) - I'm sure there is one for Sylthi
  • He's from the Silver Age - the twilight before the Dawn, so this is a period of defeating remnant monsters and rebuilding - Vogarth helps with both

 

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8 hours ago, Crel said:

Interesting, sort of the wyter of Esrolia.

Yes, one way to look at her.  She may also simply be Glorantha herself - the divine creatrix.

8 hours ago, Crel said:

In 1625, I find myself quite attracted to the notion of squabble, despite all the Grandmothers Council attempts. I recollect that Samastina claims High Queenship of Esrolia, but I'm not convinced that's terribly rock-solid.

It's a squabble, but a "controlled and orderly" squabble with a calm surface and much underlying tension.  It's best not to think of this as an "organized" council.  If you think of the Houses each as a large organized crime family, led by a Grandmother (the Esrolian "Godfather"), and then throw in an occasional "council" of the families to work out "issues", you'll have a pretty good feel for Esrolian politics.  Another good view is to think of the typical interactions of Bedouin tribes - very polite at the surface, deadly beneath.

And, no, Samastina's "hold" on Esrolia is not only not rock-solid, but tenuous beyond Nochet and North Esrolia (and does not extend to Ezel).

 

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8 hours ago, Crel said:

I'll keep it in mind, though I prefer "King" aesthetically. Maybe something like "Husband-King" or "Lord Husband"...

There is an existing Esrolian term for a 'kingly' husband-protector: Kimantor, or Lord Kimantor.  It was Ezkankekko's first name among Esrolian humans and is supposed to mean "the man you cannot see," it became the title of the chief priest in each Esrolian city to the Kimantor, Ezkankekko himself.  The Kimantor of Nochet was Ezkankekko's designated field commander for the Kimantorings, the professional army of the Kingdom of Night that originated from E's household guard in the Greater Darkness.  The Kimantorings weren't disestablished by Belintar, just relegated to an entirely defensive force for the Esrolian Sixth, and the martial temples that supplied Kimantoring recruits simply drafted more soldiers to Belintar's new standing regiments.  The Belintaran professional army collapsed during and after the debacles of 1618, and most of its veterans were drafted into the house guards of the noble houses during the Esrolian Civil War, but presumably the Kimantor temples and Kimantorings survive, at least on paper and/or lead.  If Dur-Gaddi Leadfoot isn't already initiated into the Ezkankekko subcult of Argan Argar worship, 1 RP is all that stands between him and being the Kimantor of Sylthi in even the classical sense.

My own uzko adventurer-cum-chieftain from the Blackwell has revived the title for his position as warlord for a new community at the edge of the Grazelands circa 1627, along with the name Kimantorings for its professional fighters.

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4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

 

Vogarth, also called the Big Man, was the strongest man in the world. He was a huge, strong, and kind man, noted as much for his dull mind as his great strength. He wandered throughout Kethaela and did a great many deeds. He destroyed beasts, raised landmarks, and confused foreign kings with his honesty. He even served as the husband-protector of Great Queen Merngala for a while, and was the father of her triplets. Vogarth is always depicted as a huge man with immense muscles. He is either unarmed or carrying a laborer’s hammer.

And I don't think there is much more, but I think you can take the following:

  • He's much like Hercules or Thor - strong, honest, and did many deeds - he's the Everyman of Esrolia
  • Even if "outwitted", he probably succeeds none-the-less in the stories
  • Every Esrolian city is going to have a Vogarth story (or several) - I'm sure there is one for Sylthi
  • He's from the Silver Age - the twilight before the Dawn, so this is a period of defeating remnant monsters and rebuilding - Vogarth helps with both

 

So I read a book on Carthage's history and learned that all the cultures of the Mediterranean had Hercules legends; variations established claims to areas/things/etc.  I would expect some of the stories would, in some way, establish claims to places by the Queen he served.  Who likely varies some by local traditions.

*************

Second though, in terms of beliefs and how you said the lesser sun is worshipped by the Esrolians as Elmal, and how to work the loyal thane theme.

Here's the thing - the Earth is *always there*.  The sky changes, the suns and planets and lesser suns, etc, come and go.  Elmal's marrige to an Earth goddess does two things theologically:

1.  It reunites the Sky and the Earth, separated by Umath.

2.  You can command solar magics without having to deal with Yelm, who expects to be the boss.  Elmal is, in a sense, the Barntar of the Sky, strengthening and supporting the Earth with his element.  He goes out during the day, 'works the field', then comes home to his wife at night, as a man should.

 

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1 hour ago, John Biles said:

Second though, in terms of beliefs and how you said the lesser sun is worshipped by the Esrolians as Elmal, and how to work the loyal thane theme.

Here's the thing - the Earth is *always there*.  The sky changes, the suns and planets and lesser suns, etc, come and go.  Elmal's marrige to an Earth goddess does two things theologically:

1.  It reunites the Sky and the Earth, separated by Umath.

2.  You can command solar magics without having to deal with Yelm, who expects to be the boss.  Elmal is, in a sense, the Barntar of the Sky, strengthening and supporting the Earth with his element.  He goes out during the day, 'works the field', then comes home to his wife at night, as a man should.

Plus there's Elmal's aspects as the Hearthguard, the steadfast protector of his home and family, and as Elmalhara, the warm sun that ripens the crops. There's the fact that Elmal is sometimes one of Esrola's husbands (and otherwise is Redalda's, and she's considered a daughter of Ernalda), so even if you don't have the angle of his service to Orlanth, it's not like he's suddenly bereft of mythic connections here.

The myths they tell of Elmal in Esrolia are probably different, they might de-emphasize his loyalty to Orlanth and focus more on his loyalty to his wife and family (whoever that might be), but the core mythos of the loyal and protective sun god works fine.

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19 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Plus there's Elmal's aspects as the Hearthguard, the steadfast protector of his home and family, and as Elmalhara, the warm sun that ripens the crops. There's the fact that Elmal is sometimes one of Esrola's husbands (and otherwise is Redalda's, and she's considered a daughter of Ernalda), so even if you don't have the angle of his service to Orlanth, it's not like he's suddenly bereft of mythic connections here.

The myths they tell of Elmal in Esrolia are probably different, they might de-emphasize his loyalty to Orlanth and focus more on his loyalty to his wife and family (whoever that might be), but the core mythos of the loyal and protective sun god works fine.

I'm now imagining Elmali basically growing ground cover in the fields, then burning it and plowing the ash into the soil when it's time for the regular sowing.  

This might connect to some kind of myth of him competing with Flamal to marry Esrola.

 

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As I was re-reading A Rough Guide to Glamour and working on a review, I realized I'd missed out on a notable topic in "minor" cults: city cults. While I doubt many cities have a cult requiring as extensive a writeup as Glamour, save Nochet and perhaps the other coastal metropolises, I do think the notion of "citizen" has a religious definition, rather than an economic/political one. The notion was mentioned briefly under Earth Cults, but I think it needs expansion.

An additional source on the topic is the old writeup on New Pavis and its concepts on citizenship (which I've been exposed to in the form of Pavis & Big Rubble from Gloranthan Classics). I recall the claim that Pavis generally follows the model of Sartarite cities. While Sartar & Esrolia have cultural relationships, I don't know how substantially Sartar was influenced by old models when he confederated the tribal cities. I believe there's a relationship, and that shapes my thoughts, but I'm not sure the dynamics of that relationship.

CITY CULTS

A city cult worships the communal spirit of the city, called the wyter by Heortlings. In Esrolia, this is nearly always a goddess, and nearly always the local land goddess. Consequently, the city goddess is inextricably woven together with the city's Earth Temple complex, and with the cult of the local manifestation of Ernalda. While other entities are known to be an Esrolian city deity, for present I will focus on the most common manifestation, and leave the idiosyncratic cities aside.

Citizenship is most basically defined as initiation into the city goddess's cult. Given that the city goddess is an aspect of Ernalda, Esrolian citizenship is generally restricted to women, and persons who perform female roles. Each local land goddess has a citizenship subcult, which generally has specific restrictions to entry. These restrictions are determined by the city council—and consequently by the noble houses which lead the city. Common restrictions include a certain level of wealth, matrilineal relationship to one of the city's noble houses, or performance of significant deeds on the city's behalf. A citizen has the privilege to care for a portion of the goddess, and the duty to provide her bounty to the city's leaders. (The citizen can, or must, own property as part of being a citizen, and has to pay taxes on it. Citizens are landlords to non-citizens who work the land.) In addition, the citizen has a right to be nourished by the goddess (receive a corn dole through the temple granaries), and the right of the goddess's protection (easier access to getting Rune magic cast for them, as well as appeal to the city council for justice/"justice").

Male Citizenship

A man married to a citizen receives certain rights and benefits, and is termed a "citizen consort." These are similar to the benefits in other lands of being a citizen foreigner. It generally entails legal, if not social, equality and the right to appeal to the city's queen or council for justice in disputes about the citizen consort's labor. A citizen consort has the right to be nourished by the goddess, but is not entrusted with caring for a portion of her body. (Men can't own land, but hypothetically have legal protection, as well as access to the corn dole. Legal cases are still often prejudiced against them. They still owe taxes/tithes to the goddess.) When the marriage ends, the citizen consort's status ends as well.

A similar status is extended to the male children of citizens, including adult children. Termed "Citizen minor", they receive the protections and rights of a citizen consort, even if unmarried. Citizen minor status lasts only so long as the citizen parent lives. One notable exception is that citizen minors can be the subject of an arranged marriage upon their mother's death, as decreed by the city council. This is not the case in all city-states. If they do not become married within a year--and become a citizen consort--they lose their citizenship.

Example—Sylthi

In Sylthi, the subcult of Ernalda Syltha is the citizenship subcult. It is part of the city's Ernalda cult, and has no independent existence. The city queen is the priestess of Syltha as city goddess, as well as being the city's High Priestess of Ernalda. All worshipers of the Earth—whether lay member, initiate, or Rune Master—are also lay members of Ernalda Syltha. A female initiate of Ernalda can join if they show they have cared for and maintained a portion of Syltha's body—i.e. have rented or purchased the right to, and maintained—for five years, or if they can demonstrate a matrilineal relationship to Houses Netha, Pareninna, or Lorel. The right to join Ernalda Syltha has also been awarded in the past for extraordinary deeds on behalf of the city (such as when Lorel Whitehair married Heler and saved the city from drought, founding House Lorel). In addition, a little-known part of the city charter determines that any person who can demonstrate they are a descendant of the extinct House Syltha automatically bears the privileges and duties of citizenship.

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On 6/7/2020 at 9:28 PM, dumuzid said:

There is an existing Esrolian term for a 'kingly' husband-protector: Kimantor, or Lord Kimantor.

I'd thought Kimantor was the first human that followed OOO, or the founder of the Kitori, or something. I'll have to double-check 10K. Thanks for the suggestion, though! I definitely like the sound & style of "Kimantor Dur-Gaddi" although I'm not certain if I'd use Kimantor for humans, myself.

I think one part of why I like "king," despite Esrolia, is the tension it has with the Grandmothers as a consequence of the Vingkotling Sword & Helm saga. A leader from Orlanth is a king; and that makes everyone with real power uncomfortable, even if the king is primarily ceremonial.

On 6/8/2020 at 1:07 AM, John Biles said:

So I read a book on Carthage's history and learned that all the cultures of the Mediterranean had Hercules legends; variations established claims to areas/things/etc.  I would expect some of the stories would, in some way, establish claims to places by the Queen he served.  Who likely varies some by local traditions.

I'm really liking the localized Vogarth stories idea! I might move away from him as psychopomp, but find another way to fit his folklore into the city. I'll probably blend my psychopomp notes into the river cult.

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Is citizenship a question of individual membership, or is it rather that you belong to a House (or a temple, or guild) that implicates citizenship for you?

In the case of Sylthi, I would expect registered members of the Hevduran Dege temple to Lhankor Mhy (whether servants, enrolled students, researchers based here, or the upper echelon of the temple) to be a form of citizen by default.

Given the huge number of unfree in Esrolia, does being a slave bar you from membership in the city cult? This isn't the Middle Ages where spending a year and a day inside a free city will lift the burden of servitude and being bound to a piece of land from your unfree status. This is more like the city being run by unfree in the possession of the Houses and Guilds.

I wonder whether there are entire communities consisting just of unfree people, with some of them tasked to oversee the rest for the (possibly distant) owners.

But then, with the absolute power wielded by the Grandmothers that can even send sons and husbands into sacrificial rites to be consumed by or converted into the magic desired, I wonder whether the difference between Free, Semi-Free and Unfree Esrolians is that notable.

Guild or cult rank will be an individual affair - and that includes the city cult.

2 hours ago, Crel said:

any person who can demonstrate they are a descendant of the extinct House Syltha automatically bears the privileges and duties of citizenship.

Is that matrilineal descent? Unbroken matrilineal descent?

Would that demonstration bear any similarity to Argrath's proof of both his royal and his Karandoli (Colymar-descended second instance) ancestry?

It also bears the question whether a House really is an expanded bloodline, or whether it is a conglomerate of bloodlines like a Sartarite clan.

7 minutes ago, Crel said:

I'd thought Kimantor was the first human that followed OOO, or the founder of the Kitori, or something.

Kimantor was either the Only Old One himself, or his only son (the one seduced and killed by Eurmal during the Lightbringers' Quest). He would have been a Kitori nightson, of variable shapes. And he was the husband of Queen Norinel, some time after the betrayal at the Sword and Helm Saga (in which both sides claim the other side betrayed them, but the Grandmothers' side survived into the Dawn).

The first human to become a Kitori Shadowlord was Varzor Kitor. He is recorded as a war leader of the Second Council against the Shadzorings of Alkoth and the Horse Warlords of Dara Happa, but his conversion may well have occurred in the Silver Age already.

In a sense, all subjects of the Only Old One in the Kingdom of Night already in the Silver Age were Kitori, bound together by mutual tribute and protection. Not all of them were Shadowlords, though.

17 minutes ago, Crel said:

I think one part of why I like "king," despite Esrolia, is the tension it has with the Grandmothers as a consequence of the Vingkotling Sword & Helm saga. A leader from Orlanth is a king; and that makes everyone with real power uncomfortable, even if the king is primarily ceremonial.

That grief has been flaring up again a number of occasions, and really badly in the Adjustment Wars with the Heortling kings following the demise of the draconic leaders.

The role of the queen and the grandmothers in the Sword and Helm Saga is one of hardly warranted entitlement and utter disregard for the plight of the world and its common struggle. It is the epitome of the selfishness of a small collective, of shifting the blame.

I have a very hard time to find anything positive and uplifting in the regime of the Grandmothers. Their struggle to keep people fed and their attempt to have a consensus of tyrants are about the most positive things I can say about them. Much of the rest of their history and mythology is fodder for nightmares and horror stories.

 

I wonder how the Lhankor Mhy/Hevduran presence in Sylthi does upset that all-matriarchal set-up. What came first, the city, or the library?

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

I'd thought Kimantor was the first human that followed OOO, or the founder of the Kitori, or something.

As Jeorg goes into, the first human to take Ezkankekko up on the full measure of his offer to teach the secrets of Darkness was Varzor Kitor.  'Kitori' didn't always mean the distinct Heortling tribe that exists in northern Esrolia in the 1600s, back in the Silver Age and early Dawn it seems to have been used as a term for all the subjects of the Kingdom of Night, but the modern Kitori tribe considers Varzor their founding ancestor.

As for Kimantor, 10K seems to make the identification of Kimantor and Ezkankekko.

The Esrolian Military article, p. 8, which is written as a reader's-eye-view document rather than an in-universe one like the myths in the book, makes no distinction between Ezkankekko and Kimantor:

image.png.9240ced7a9af6c144426ac51f23765ba.png

In the myths, the first direct mention of Kimantor is in the Norinel and Kimantor myth:

image.png.3acfe94732314763704e873a5ab7dbe7.png (p. 30)

image.png.d943dd1fc7e262a54362744003ac1168.png(")

That establishes Kimantor's kinship with the uz and night, but doesn't necessarily show whether he and Ezkankekko were the same being.  If we skip on to the Battle of Nochet myth though, after Norinel and Kimantor lead the fighting retreat from Nochet to the Palace of Black Glass atop the Shadow Plateau:

image.png.2a10ff38ae84fc60b99f62a9a4515248.png(p. 32)

image.png.62a0635704c41217e296ba67966fef35.png(")

Under the name Lord Victory Nightbrother he goes on to gather the Unity Army and fight the Unity Battle against the Devil's horde.  Then he and Norinel lead the refounding of Nochet and their first son, Desdel, becomes his father's first high priest at his first temple, the Kimantor Armory of Nochet's Citadel.  Throughout the mythic sections of 10k, which are written from an in-universe Esrolian perspective, the name 'Ezkankekko' does not appear once.  There is no physical demigod residing at the Palace when Norinel and Kimantor get the refugees there.  From the myth it seems Chaos monsters held the Plateau and even the interior of the Palace against them.  The only elder figure Kimantor pays homage to in the whole myth is the absent god of the Palace, Argan Argar, who is supposed to have departed for the Underworld not long after Esrola died/fell into hibernation.  Then Kimantor took on his new name and began the preparations that culminated in the Unity Battle and again, there's no elder figure he's taking orders from, he's the fellow in charge.  I don't know of any source that claims Ezkankekko's son gathered the Unity Army.  The most conclusive evidence that Kimantor and Ezkankekko are one and the same comes at the very end of Battle of Nochet:

image.png.e235533b5c98182b2df122a20ca57fdd.png(p. 32)

image.png.cdac564e3f92dd533283bec6d58761a2.png(")

The Esrolians themselves seem to have no notion that Kimantor's parents were other than Argan Argar and Esrola, and the text makes no reference to any father of Kimantor other than Argan Argar.  There's no concept in the text of a second lord of darkness up on the Shadow Plateau separate from Kimantor other than the absent Argan Argar.

As for how Kimantor and Norinel had human children, leaving aside the miraculous possibilities of divine heritage and Imarjan fertility rites, one of Ezkankekko's most well-attested powers was his ability to take on the form of any sentient people he met.  I'm sure the Queen of Nochet and a shapeshifting husband could work something out.

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8 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

The most conclusive evidence that Kimantor and Ezkankekko are one and the same

As you note, all the references point to Kimantor = Ezkankekko (aka OOO). 

3 hours ago, Crel said:

I'd thought Kimantor was the first human that followed OOO, or the founder of the Kitori, or something.

That seems to be Varzar Kitor, and associated with founding the Kitori.  Kimantor, from all I can see, is the Only Old One, the demigod child of Argan Argar and Esrola and leader of the Unity Battle.

5 hours ago, Crel said:

A city cult worships the communal spirit of the city, called the wyter by Heortlings. In Esrolia, this is nearly always a goddess, and nearly always the local land goddess.

While I'd agree there will be a high likelihood that the city cult will be a goddess, I don't think it is necessarily the land goddess.  Can be, but not necessarily.  The land goddess is more about the place - the city goddess is about the culture or "civilization" that brings the community together.

The city goddess for instance of Nochet is Norinel, who was the Queen during the Great Darkness (noted on Esrolia p.12). Rhigos' city goddess is Delaina (noted on Esrolia p.53), who might be viewed as a goddess of that region, but is more associated with wisdom, music, and magic (and tutelary goddess of heroes).  Helerdon (aka Asrelia's Hold) might well have Asrelia (or an aspect/subcult of her) as its city goddess.

5 hours ago, Crel said:

Given that the city goddess is an aspect of Ernalda, Esrolian citizenship is generally restricted to women, and persons who perform female roles.

I don't agree with that premise.  Yes, Ernalda is central to Esrolian life, but citizenship needs to be broader and encapsulate men and women.  Citizenship encompasses such aspects as the markets, the guilds, even the Irillo hundreds.  

6 hours ago, Crel said:

These restrictions are determined by the city council—and consequently by the noble houses which lead the city. Common restrictions include a certain level of wealth, matrilineal relationship to one of the city's noble houses, or performance of significant deeds on the city's behalf. A citizen has the privilege to care for a portion of the goddess, and the duty to provide her bounty to the city's leaders. 

Something about this reads as much too modern, and too organized.

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38 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

I don't agree with that premise.  Yes, Ernalda is central to Esrolian life, but citizenship needs to be broader and encapsulate men and women.  Citizenship encompasses such aspects as the markets, the guilds, even the Irillo hundreds.  

That makes sense. I'll try considering it longer. I think my brain went "Esrolia? Female superiority + earth goddesses, bam, done." That said, I do find something attractive in how those sorts of citizenship requirements institutionalize both the status of a city's noble houses and the status of women.

In my Sylthi, Syltha is something like an ancestress, like how I think Norinel is from what Joerg & dumuzid discussed. I've been treating her as the localized embodiment of Ernalda as well, and thus she would have been something like a nymph or oread. Semi-divine, probably within near descent from Esrola. I haven't determined the specifics yet, or mucked around much with the specifics of Sylthi's pre-Dawn mythology. She (or her descendants) found a family-house, from which the city's named (Sylthi, the people of Syltha). Her bloodline goes (supposedly) extinct in the Adjustment Wars, and House Netha refounds the city sometime between then and Belintar's arrival. I loosely imagine that event as similar to the Orane quest presented as an example in the HQG rulebook.

I'm willing to extrapolate that the "default" Esrolian city-goddess in my view is a land goddess/ancestress, and that most folks of a given city-state are consequently tightly tied to the land, in religious terms. But I'll give that some more thought as you suggest, both broadly, and for Sylthi in particular (it could be true of one and not the other, and either could be the true one).

Are other city gods/goddesses written up anywhere? I'm only really familiar with Glamour (which is Lunar, and weird even for Lunars I suspect) and that there's a very bland RQ3 City Gods entry in the gods pack. Right, Pavis, I should re-read Pavis's cult, too. Still, the extant city cults I can think of seem to be weirdo exceptions... which I suppose isn't surprising for an RPG!

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

I wonder how the Lhankor Mhy/Hevduran presence in Sylthi does upset that all-matriarchal set-up. What came first, the city, or the library?

I don't currently see it as upsetting it deeply, but in part that's because of the traditional prohibition on Lhankoring involvement in politics, and because the current Chief Sage Vodris Leatherback places the library's focus firmly on education and research. His second (blanking on the name) is rather more hot-blooded, and is typically an itinerant Sword Sage, rather than a temple guard. (I see the Sword Sages as basically either temple guards, or Indiana Jones; basically kung fu sorcerer-monks because rule of cool. And I'm aware that probably contravenes canon. :D)

I know the library's older than the refounding of the city; it was successfully defended using Hevduran's unique magics, and so wasn't sacked and destroyed despite the rest of the city being wrecked. I'm not certain if it's older than Sylthi's founding. I don't think it is. I know it is at least older than the Great Darkness, but probably not older than the Gods War. I've got Hevduran's myth outlined somewhere, but not written yet. Basically defense v. Chaos, valuing knowledge over family, etc. I'm pretty sure the library was minor originally, but rose to prominence because Hevduran successfully defends it, and it's around (or the scholars of it were, and the building was destroyed) at the Dawn. I'll need to review Nochet's history before fiddling with that further.

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7 hours ago, Crel said:

Men can't own land, but hypothetically have legal protection, as well as access to the corn dole. Legal cases are still often prejudiced against them.

I've got some thoughts on this one: 

- Given that Esrolian houses function approximately like Heortling clans, any (organized) legal dispute on a cross-house basis is likely to drag the extended family/house into the legal conflict as well, meaning that legal battles occur on a house vs. house basis, not person vs. person basis. 

- As such, I'm not entirely sure if a third-party mediator/court can really maintain a prejudice against a male party, since it's quite likely that he'll be either represented by or supported by his wife, or mother, or other notable female relative, possibly even Grandmother. 

- Obviously, there are likely cases where the House doesn't want to invest a huge amount of resources in a clear-cut-case, or costly affair (either literal resources or prestige and time/effort), so it's not like every legal dispute is tantamount to all-out-legal-war, as it were.

- Intra-house legal conflicts are presumably settled by their Grandmothers, and are therefore not really public matters in the same sense, so function differently. 

- I'm not entirely sure who handles legal disputes in Esrolian cities/towns. Professional courts and judges are perhaps unlikely, but do they have Lhankor Mhy lawspeakers? (and if there are, do they function as judges, or are they merely neutral "expert witnesses" who can be consulted with on matters of procedure and recorded facts?) Earth priestess mediators? A called-in jury of other citizens debating until they reach some kind of consensus?  

- The class bias (wealthy houses winning against weaker houses most of the time) is kind of a given, but there is some alleviating factor in that this bias can't be TOO obvious, or else the proles might collectively riot (or refuse to do their work, walk out of the town, etc.)

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

In my Sylthi, Syltha is something like an ancestress, like how I think Norinel is from what Joerg & dumuzid discussed. I've been treating her as the localized embodiment of Ernalda as well, and thus she would have been something like a nymph or oread. Semi-divine, probably within near descent from Esrola. I haven't determined the specifics yet, or mucked around much with the specifics of Sylthi's pre-Dawn mythology. She (or her descendants) found a family-house, from which the city's named (Sylthi, the people of Syltha). Her bloodline goes (supposedly) extinct in the Adjustment Wars, and House Netha refounds the city sometime between then and Belintar's arrival. I loosely imagine that event as similar to the Orane quest presented as an example in the HQG rulebook.

I think that works fine.  Norinel is both city goddess (Queen of the city during its greatest crisis) and ancestral goddess (from which House Norinel and many of the greatest queens descend).  Delaina is Rhigos is city goddess, ancestral goddess (House Delainaeo in Nochet, House Orendelaina in Rhigos), and an Earth goddess (one of the Six Sisters).

You can also think of House Netha as a "New Seed".  Orane quest is a good model.  I ran that for our HQG group and blended in the opportunity to draw from Asrelia's Dancing Jar (which nominally contains 12 blessings and 7 guardians).  

If her bloodline went extinct (and Adjustment Wars are a good time for that), then the whole structure/community of the city is likely to collapse.  Desperate times!  Bad men trying to take over!  etc.

1 hour ago, Crel said:

Are other city gods/goddesses written up anywhere? I'm only really familiar with Glamour (which is Lunar, and weird even for Lunars I suspect) and that there's a very bland RQ3 City Gods entry in the gods pack. Right, Pavis, I should re-read Pavis's cult, too. Still, the extant city cults I can think of seem to be weirdo exceptions... which I suppose isn't surprising for an RPG!

Generally no.  Jeff has been working on those for the Sartarite cities, I believe (Wilms in Wilmkirk, Hauberk Jon, Swen). The Conquering Daughter is both a Lunar war goddess and the city goddess for Jillaro in Sylila.  I had one for the city of Hortugarth in Imther from years ago (though that one never got published).  

A city god/goddess generally won't offer much in magic beyond something like City Harmony (just have to think about what the primary Power rune is that supports a community).

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Given that Esrolian houses function approximately like Heortling clans, any (organized) legal dispute on a cross-house basis is likely to drag the extended family/house into the legal conflict as well, meaning that legal battles occur on a house vs. house basis, not person vs. person basis. 

They certainly do!  Nothing personal here - it's all about the position, honor, and wealth of the house.  And if an individual in your house is creating Disorder, it's on the Grandmother to deal with it.

1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

- As such, I'm not entirely sure if a third-party mediator/court can really maintain a prejudice against a male party

Agree.  But many men are known for being disorderly, stormy, overly passionate, etc. and those are things to keep in check.

1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

- Intra-house legal conflicts are presumably settled by their Grandmothers, and are therefore not really public matters in the same sense, so function differently. 

Think Bedouin negotiations here.  Invite the other Grandmother over for tea, work out the logistics, make them an offer they can't refuse.  There is not a public court system here.

1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

- I'm not entirely sure who handles legal disputes in Esrolian cities/towns.

The House Grandmothers.  If they can't decide or agree, then it might get bumped up to the Queen of the City, advised by her Lawspeaker.

1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Professional courts and judges are perhaps unlikely, but do they have Lhankor Mhy lawspeakers? (and if there are, do they function as judges, or are they merely neutral "expert witnesses" who can be consulted with on matters of procedure and recorded facts?) Earth priestess mediators? A called-in jury of other citizens debating until they reach some kind of consensus? 

No professional courts or judges.  

Yes, there are LM lawspeakers, and plenty of scribes.  The scribes document everything - tribute, trade deals, settlements, marriages, etc.  Important to bring those to bear while the Grandmothers debate.  They may bring in Earth priestesses to mediate if tensions are mounting.  I do not think you'll see a "jury".

 

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3 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

No professional courts or judges.  

But hopefully a place for legal duels, with Humakti championing as "advocates" of a case?

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2 minutes ago, Joerg said:

But hopefully a place for legal duels, with Humakti championing as "advocates" of a case?

Of course!

As well as for the timely "removal" of troublesome "complainants".

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